I don’t remember when I started running for fitness. I don’t even know why I started. It never seemed like a great idea, but I did it. Somehow I even worked my way up to running three miles without stopping (and without passing out at the end). And then my brother, the crazy marathoner, talked me into trying a half marathon. That was almost three years ago. I ran that half – not in the time I wanted – but I did it. And I had a huge feeling of accomplishment. I did it!! The race was the easy part. The training…now that was hard. And that was the part I was most proud of.
My brother, also an instigator, recently talked me into another half marathon. In 3 1/2 weeks, he, my niece, and I will be running the Safari Park Half. Training BITES! Six, seven, even eight miles…not so bad. Nine through thirteen…ugh. I did ten miles this morning. I coasted through the first five. Then I started counting down, which is a mistake for me. By mile 8, I was pretty much toast. Stupid stop lights. I fought to 9.52, and then took a small break. It was at that point, I remembered my brother’s writing from his first marathon journey. He had said when he felt like quitting, when he felt he couldn’t go on any longer, he would think of my Ryley and how he battled his way through premature birth, the NICU, and beat all the odds placed in front of him. And he thought about our oldest sister Deb, how she had fought valiantly, and definitely on her terms, always with humor and grace, in her battle with cancer – a battle that ended five years after it started with Deb’s passing. And then I started running again, finishing out the ten miles, and going a tiny bit further just because I could.
Running really isn’t a big deal. You just do it. Running long distances doesn’t make one a hero, a brave soul, or anything out of the ordinary. My Ryley, and my sister Deb, they’re heroes. They are/were courageous. They are/were extraordinary. Running isn’t anything amazing. Yeah, people look at you like you’re nuts, especially when you stare down a bus or garbage truck as you run along the side of one of the busiest roads in town.
I have two more long runs before the race on May 5th. I’m already dreading them, mentally planning for them, emotionally gearing up to push through. I know there will be walls I will hit in those runs. But then I will think of Ryley, and I will think of Deb and how they carried on in their fights. That will put it in perspective, and push me through to the end.